- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 21, 2005

House fire kills 9 at sleepover

CLEVELAND — A fire broke out during a children’s sleepover at a Cleveland house early yesterday, killing seven kids and two adults, the fire department said.

Eleven persons were in the house in the eastern part of the city when the blaze started about 3 a.m., said Assistant Fire Chief Tim O’Toole. The victims were aged 4 to 34, and Chief O’Toole said at least one of the children was at the house for a sleepover.

Firefighters said the mother of six of the dead children lived in the house, but it was not clear how the others were related. The fate of the mother was also not known.

An investigation into the fire centered on the first floor, which sustained heavy fire damage, Chief O’Toole said. The second floor, where all the bodies were found, was also heavily damaged by smoke and soot.

Texas gay ‘marriage’ ban heads to voters

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Senate approved a proposed constitutional ban on same-sex “marriage” with a 21-8 vote yesterday, sending the issue to voters. Last month, the House narrowly passed the proposal, which would define marriage as between one man and one woman.

State law already prohibits same-sex “marriages.” If approved in a statewide vote in November, Texas would join 14 states that statutorily and constitutionally ban the unions.

Massachusetts is the only state that allows such “marriages,” although Vermont and Connecticut have approved same-sex civil unions.

Powder in letter not anthrax

SANTA FE, N.M. — White powder in a threatening letter to Gov. Bill Richardson was not anthrax, according to tests a day after the substance forced the state Capitol to evacuate.

“Anthrax is not involved; no other harmful agents are involved,” Peter Olson, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety, said yesterday. The letter was opened Friday afternoon by the director of mail operations for the governor’s office. Authorities evacuated the office and other parts of the building as a precaution.

Tests ruled out anthrax, but further tests were planned over the weekend to try to identify the powder. The FBI and the U.S. Postal Service were investigating the source. “It’s most likely a hoax, but we’re taking every necessary precaution,” said Mr. Richardson, a Democrat.

Somali man set for deportation to go free

MINNEAPOLIS — A Somali man whose deportation was derailed when his war-torn native country refused to accept him should be released while the United States determines what to do next, a judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge John Tunheim on Friday ordered the government to place Keyse Jama on supervised release by tomorrow morning, saying he is neither a flight risk nor dangerous.

Jama, 26, was admitted to the United States as a refugee in 1996, but deportation proceedings began after he was convicted of felony assault three years later.

Jama does not dispute the grounds for deportation, but says he shouldn’t be shipped to a lawless country in no position to take him. His appeals became a test case for thousands of Somalis resisting deportation to their homeland.

Teacher marries former student

SEATTLE — Mary Kay Letourneau, whose notorious seduction of a 12-year-old boy led to more than seven years in prison, has married the former student she was convicted of raping.

Mrs. Letourneau, 43, and Vili Fualaau, 22, exchanged vows they had written themselves during a tightly guarded ceremony Friday night, said Janet Annino, co-executive producer of the TV show “Entertainment Tonight.”

The couple have been in the spotlight since Mrs. Letourneau was imprisoned in 1997. But when she was released last August, the couple — who have two daughters together — reunited. The ceremony was held at the Columbia Winery in Woodinville, about 20 miles northeast of Seattle, Miss Annino said.

Mrs. Letourneau and Mr. Fualaau gave a series of interviews to “Entertainment Tonight” and its sister TV show, “The Insider,” which had exclusive rights to the nuptials. Show officials said they did not pay for the wedding.

Mrs. Letourneau’s teenage daughter, Mary Claire, from her earlier marriage, was maid of honor. The couple’s two daughters, Audrey, 8, and Alexis Georgia, 7, were flower girls.

The couple first met when Mr. Fualaau was in the second grade. Their relationship turned sexual when he was 12 and she was a 34-year-old married mother of four and a teacher at a suburban elementary school.

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